tv ABC World News With Diane Sawyer ABC January 23, 2012 6:30pm-7:00pm EST
welcome to "world news." tonight, deadly twisters. 25 tornados in less than 24 hours. fueled by freakishly warm winter weather. secret weapon. mitt romney brings in help for his campaign as the gingrich juggernaut targets florida. patdown smackdown. the fire-brand u.s. senator who refused a patdown at airport security, causing a raucous, and saying it's time for everyone to take a stand. medical breakthrough. surgery without a scalpel. what a woman with terrible tremors go from this to this in just ten seconds. good evening.
something terrifying took the south by surprise last night. no warning, 25 tornadoes striking in less than 24 hours. roaring through four states in the darkness. and this was the scene today in alabama, arkansas, mississippi and tennessee. where entire neighborhoods were wiped out as families slept. at least two are dead. 100 injured. and we know tornados peak in may or june, so no one could believe this is happening now in winter. abc's steve osunsami in alabama reports on the freakish, frightening new weather pattern. steve. >> reporter: good evening, diane. it feels like we've been here before -- and we have. the tornado that hit here last night destroyed some of the same homes that were hit the last go-around. families who lived here were lucky to get out alive. it was so terribly frightening -- in the middle of the night, families across alabama startled awake by sirens
and then, the sound of the tornado -- wind speeds at 150 miles an hour -- faster than a high- peed train. >> there it is. >> reporter: twisting giant trees, flattening neighborhoods, cutting a deadly path. >> it's total destruction. >> it was an experience for me. i don't want to go through it again. >> reporter: more than 100 people hurt. some trapped in their homes. like this one, where 86-year-old bobby sims lost his life. and 16 year old christina heichelneck. was also killed. she was an honor student and sang in her high school choir. her friends say she sang like an angel. what were you doing inside? >> i was covered up with a pillow over my head -- crunched down. >> reporter: andrea johnson says god was watching over her. she showed us what's left of her home. somehow she made it from her bedroom to her safe place in time. what are you thinking right now? >> what i love and what i
cherish, my home, is gone. >> reporter: in an instant. >> like that. >> reporter: her daughter and granddaughter drove hours through the darkness, to make sure she was safe. >> i'm thankful. >> reporter: the pictures looked so familiar. this panoramic image reminded us so much of the tornadoes here last april that killed nearly 240 people. >> reminds me of april all over again, what we all went through, and it's just so sad. >> reporter: scientists say it's rare to see such a strong, deadly tornado this early in the year. but warm air in the south collided with cold air from the north -- at just the right moment -- at the most unfortunate time of night. earlier this month, there were also tornadoes in texas and north carolina too. diane. >> steve, what have you learned about how people can be alerted in the middle of the night if they're asleep? >> reporter: well, one suggestion is to go to websites like fema.com, register your
phone number, and then they will call you with alerts in the middle of the night. >> so they'll wake you up in the middle of the night. that's fema.com. thank you, steve osunsami. now, a woman who has taught us a lot about spirit and patriotism. congresswoman gabby giffords. as you know, congresswoman giffords has decided to resign from congress. today, in bittersweet symbolism, she was holding an open meeting with constituents when a gunman's bullet changed her life, but she returned to that very place before she stepped down. abc's david wright was there. >> reporter: good-byes are never easy but today congresswoman gabby giffords kept up her smile as she limped through her last event in her congressional district -- a rare public appearance, after what happened one year ago. >> -- shot while holding an event -- >> reporter: a shooting in a safeway parking lot that turned gifford's "congress on your corner" event into a national tragedy.
today across the street from the safeway, the only reminder of what happened is this, six wooden crosses with six names. all of them killed when they came to meet their congresswoman. today, a brief reunion of people whose lives were changed forever that saturday morning. daniel hernandez, the intern who saved gifford's life. susie heilman, who brought little christina taylor green that day. mavy stoddard lost her husband in the shooting. >> i feel bad for the shooter. i forgive him. you're the first person i've said that to. it's taken me a year. >> reporter: it was a miracle that gabby giffords survived, a miracle that she allowed abc news to follow as she struggled to find her voice again. she spoke first to abc's dianne sawyer. >> you want to get better. >> better. >> and so you think to yourself, i'll go back to congress if i get better. >> yes, yes, yes. >> reporter: giffords did manage
to go back to congress. it was a rare moment of unity. but for now, she has other work to do. in a video posted on youtube this weekend, she explained why she is stepping down. >> thank you for your prayers and for giving me time to recover. >> reporter: even now, she insists she'll be back. her many admirers wish her godspeed. david wright, abc news, tucson. >> and before she steps down, congresswoman giffords will be on the floor of congress one more time, sitting with her fellow congressmen and women as the president delivers his state of the union address tomorrow night. a reminder, george stephanopoulos and i will be bringing it all to you with the help of our powerhouse political team, live from washington, d.c., 9:00 p.m. eastern, 6:00 p.m. pacific. and a note that on thursday, i'm going to be sitting down with president obama for his first network interview following the state of the union. and in tonight "your advivo
your vote," more proof this contest is a trample lean. a new poll. bringing mitt romney and newt gingrich into a dead heat nationally. tonight, romney is calling in the debate coach cavalry. abc's david muir in florida. >> reporter: great to see you from florida this evening. and the stakes are enormous here now for mitt romney. after that stunning win for newt gingrich in south carolina -- and suddenly romney and gingrich neck and neck in this republican race. the romney camp told me today they have, in fact, hired the new debate coach. with them since michele bachmann dropped out. tonight, florida brings with it a brand new race. and for mitt romney, that new debate coach. and a new strategy. after months of trying to focus on president obama, it is now clearly newt gingrich first. romney taking aim. >> he's gone from pillar to post almost like a pinball machine, from item to item in a way which is highly erratic.
>> reporter: meeting with homeowners about the housing crisis -- >> i'm struggling to make ends meet. >> reporter: -- romney tried to turn the tables on gingrich. after so much pressure on romney to release his tax returns -- romney challenged gingrich to show the work he did at troubled mortgage giant freddie mac. again saying pay the money back. >> while florida families lost everything in the housing crisis, newt gingrich cashed in. >> reporter: but gingrich, fresh off that stunning south carolina win, instead went to a rally this afternoon while romney was in debate prep. gingrich now questioning the one characteristic romney once seemed to have a lock on. electability -- the best shot at beating president obama. gingrich saying this about romney's escalating rhetoric here in florida. >> it used to be pious baloney. now it's just desperate baloney. >> reporter: both camps know what those numbers in south carolina revealed. while romney did well with voters making more than $200,000, blue-collar republicans went for newt. 41% to romney's 25%. women? gingrich's three marriages did not deter them. beating romney by nine points
among women. today in florida, where early voting is already under way, the first votes in next week's primary, this voter is on the fence. >> well, i think that i prefer nult. >> reporter: but this voter was afraid of what a newt nomination could bring. >> i fear there could be a surprise. too many skeletons in his closet. >> reporter: and for david king, who voted for romney today, how does he explain next's momentum? what do you make of the newt gingrich surge though? >> oh, it's the way he answers questions. that's the cheerleader for the moment. he won't be able to answer like that when the questions get tough. >> reporter: meantime, there is late word coming in tonight that newt gingrich's contract with freddie mac will be released this evening. and, diane, on mitt romney's tax returns, he won't release 12 years worth like his father did when he ran for president in '67 but two years worth and they'll come first thing tomorrow morning. >> you were telling me even mrs. romney, ann romney, his wife, seem to be preparing the way for this release. >> reporter: yeah, when she
arrived on the ground in florida, one of the things she said at a rally is i want to remind you all we know where our riches come from, our riches are with our family. the first time they released returns after the senator run, the governor run. this time they have to release them tomorrow morning. >> all right. i want to bring in co-anchor of "good morning america," george stephanopoulos. give us the big picture, george. how did newt gingrich fire up the afterburners again? >> it was incredible. it happened in the debates. he showed he can take on the media, take on obama, and it created the massive shift. who can beat obama? all year long, that has been romney's big advantage. almost 30 points in iowa. it blew to a more than 50-point advantage in new hampshire and, then, look at this reversal, complete flip. now newt gingrich has that advantage on electable. who can beat obama. a lot of the voters in south carolina said they saw him take the other people on, he can take the fight to the president. >> so the president, the debates, one-two punch?
one-two-three purge? >> and the media as well. i talked to several top republican strategists today. most of these people do not want newt gingrich to be the nominee but for the first time they're starting to believe it actually can happen. it begins for newt if he gets a win in florida in just over a week. >> all right. and i will see you tomorrow night for the president's state of the union of course tomorrow morning on "good morning america." thank you, george. now, the supreme court dealt a blow to law enforcement today. the court ruled police cannot put a secret gps device on the car of a suspect unless they first obtain a valid search warrant. it is a rare defeat for law enforcement. the majority of the justices ruled that cars are private property. and search teams recovered more bodies today from that capsized carnival cruise ship. two female passengers found inside the ship's internet cafe. officials believe the ship is now stable and that the million gallons of fuel on board can now
be removed. and, today, we learned that the funeral for famed penn state football coach joe paterno is scheduled for wednesday. patterno died on sunday of lung cancer, just months after losing the job he held for nearly five decades. and all day today across the sports world, people were grappling with how you judge his legacy. balancing all that he achieved with the scandal that ultimately brought him down. and still ahead on "world news," a u.s. senator refuses a security patdown at the airport, setting off a firestorm. was he a rabble-rouser or taking a stand for everyone? and the surgery without a knife. see how it changes a lifelong disorder in ten seconds. okay, team! after age 40, we can start losing muscle -- 8% every 10 years. wow. wow. but you can help fight muscle loss
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of america's travelers stopped for a patdown. the scanner at nashville's airport targeted his leg, and he missed his flight after refusing to allow any tsa agent to pat him down, instead asking to go through the scanner a second time. >> i offered to show them my leg. i showed them my leg repeatedly, but they didn't really care about my leg too much. and i said, "can i go back through the scanner?" and they said no. >> reporter: senator paul's father, ron, wants the toss shut down, and today called the incident evidence "the police state in this country is growing out of control." the senator's staff tweeted, "he's currently being detained by tsa." the tsa said he was only escorted out of the security area. >> i was told not to leave a cubicle, and when i did step outside the cubicle, i was sort of surrounded and put back into the cubicle. >> reporter: detained or not, he returned to the counter for a second ticket to washington. this time, the machine detected nothing unusual about his leg. >> i think
it's an indignity that we're going through this, not making us safer. >> reporter: fellow passengers were unsympathetic. >> he should have to go through it as well. >> reporter: but here is the big picture. the tsa tells abc news senator paul was treated as everyone else is. once anyone starts the screening process and the machine alerts screeners to something suspicious, they must submit to targeted pat downs or leave. security experts say not only would repeat scans hold up the line, they would allow bombers to hide or worse, activate a device. >> then you're giving a potential terrorist a second bite at the apple to see if he can get through the second time >> reporter: and reacting to controversies over patdowns of the very young and older americans complaining about embarrassing body searches, the government is now allowing children under 12 to keep their shoes on.
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that would have tied the game. the giants won when the ball was kicked from about the same distance and made it. watch again. the unsung hero may have been the holder, right there, steve weatherford, who put the ball in perfect position for the winning kick, even though it was a wet day, who knows how wet that ball was. a remarkable feat of endurance at the bottom of the world. fill lessty astern of britain became the first person to ski across antarctica 1,100 miles alone. she spent months training, pulling tires along the beach and working out her shoulders. it paid off. she hauled sleds, two of them, 59 days, surviving on freeze-dried food and 70 baggies of trail mix. she got a scare in the mountains. her butane lighters wouldn't work. she had to rely on a limited supply of matches. tonight, she did it. she said she's looking forward to a very long, very hot shower.
a different kind of perseverance. watch what happened as a viol violinist in slovakia is entire ru interrupted by a ring tone. >> the video's a sensation online. some viewers thought it might be part of a marketing campaign by nokia but the cell phone company says nope, they were not involved in any way. and when we return, the revolutionary surgery. no knife. our patient goes from this to this. you wouldn't want your doctor doing your job. so why are you doing his? only your doctor can determine if your persistent heartburn is actually something more serious... like acid reflux disease. over time, stomach acid can damage the lining of your esophagus.
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for phyllis harber walker, this experimental treatment offered hope. like 10 million americans, phyllis suffered from "essential tremors." >> i felt a little bit on the worthless side. >> reporter: a neurological disorder that makes her shake uncontrollably. >> at church, i stopped taking communion. i couldn't do it. >> reporter: she couldn't hold a cup, couldn't write until her doctor used sound, ultrasound to change her life. touch me with your untreated hand. it's hard to do. >> yes. >> reporter: now, let me see you with your treated hand. that's almost perfect. ultrasound therapy is already fda approved to treat fibroids. as part of this study, her doctors used it to sear away a misfiring nerve circuit controlling her right hand. a knife is replaced by this? >> that's correct. >> reporter: dr. jeff elias is the pioneer who performed her surgery at uva. >> that's over a thousand ultrasound.
>> reporter: and it's that energy which is cutting the brain? >> just like if you took a magnifying glass and focused it on a leaf. >> reporter: traditional surgery requires two separate operations, with weeks of recovery time. but with ultrasound therapy, treatment can take as little as ten seconds. there's almost no recovery time and fewer complications. >> it's just the feeling of -- the vibration of something. >> reporter: so i mean ultrasound could really change the approach in neurosurgery? >> not just neurosurgery but really almost any disorder of the body. cancers, strokes, parkinson's disease, epilepsy -- they're really all potentially treatable. >> i wanted to write my two grandsons who were in afghanistan and iraq. >> reporter: this is phyllis's writing before. but then -- >> it was immediate. i could write. >> reporter: a new life for phyllis, a breakthrough in medicine. dr. richard besser, abc news, charlottesville, virginia. and we thank you for watching this monday night, beginning the week with us.
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